Conservationists file federal lawsuit to halt paving of International Drive

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Coastal Conservation League and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation have filed a federal lawsuit to stop the paving of International Drive.

In the lawsuit filed on Sept. 1, the groups name Horry County, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as defendants.

The complaint challenges a permit issued in July in connection with paving a portion of International Drive and also the issuance of an environmental assessment that found the project would have no significant environmental impact.

Just a day after crews began work on International Drive on Aug. 22, opponents of the project filed a notice of appeal and a motion for stay.

Last month in a Facebook post by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, the group mentioned that county officials allegedly told them about the prospect of new homes being built on the road in the future, a very different image than the pleas for public safety and emergency access argued during the March trial.

“This way of governing is short-sighted, ill-advised and ultimately jeopardizes Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve, which is why it is imperative to bring this case before the Court of Appeal in defense of one of the most unique places in Horry County and the whole state,” the SC Law Project said in the post.

Officials say the paving project will likely take between eight months and a year to finish. Horry County will begin the contracting process with the construction and paving company next, and should publicize the agreement in early October.

“There is the potential that a federal court action could be filed to stop us from paving the road, but again we are willing to take that risk. We have the money in the bank and all the required permits for this project, and we are going to get this road built,” Horry County Chairman Mark Lazarus said.

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